What Is Arc De Triomphe Made Of

The Construction of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is a monumental arch situated in the center of Paris. The impressive structure was built between the years 1806 and 1836 by Napoleon Bonaparte. It stands almost 50 meters tall, and is made from interesting materials such as stone, marble and bronze. The Arc also features two towers at the sides and two soldiers at the top.

The popular landmark was built in honor of Napoleon’s victories at the battles of Austerlitz, Jena, and Friedland, although it was incomplete at the time of Napoleon’s death and was eventually finished under Louis XVIII.

The main structure is constructed from masonry, with a double self-supporting arching system of masonry voussoirs (wedges); the entrance doorways have panels and sculptures depicting battles. The four monumental piers have carved bas-reliefs of isolated narratives and bas-reliefs depicting the most important moments in French history, some of which are on the keystones which tie the masonry archways together.

The remainder of the Arc is made up of a range of stone additions, including 400 columns, 300 arches, and 28 staircases, as well as the main sculpture, ‘La Fame’, which features a stallion fighting with a snake. This sculpture is made from bronze and was later adorned with gold.

The four large reliefs on the lower level depict France’s four modern wars. They are “Napoleon’s Return from Egypt” by Cortot, the “Battle of Jemmapes” by Rude, the “Battle of Marengo” by Gros, and “Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz” by Gros.

At the entrance of the Arc, two large bas-reliefs carved of bronze and marble commemorate Napoleon’s victories in the battles of Friedland and Montmirail. Nearby one also finds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, added in 1921 in honour of the fallen soldiers of World War I.

In total, the Arc de Triomphe is made up of over 400 stones, marble, bronze, and sculpted reliefs; its construction took more than three decades and involved the efforts of many artists, masons, and architects. Even today, the renowned monument is renowned for its architectural beauty and historical significance.

The Height and Width of the Monument

Measuring 50 meters in height and 45 meters in width, the Arc de Triomphe is considered one of the largest triumphal arches ever built. It is constructed of up to 400 stones, marble, bronze, and sculpted reliefs. The monument is so large that it can be seen from miles away.

When entering the arch, visitors can ascend up to the roof through one of the 284 steps of the internal spiral staircase. From the roof, they can enjoy a stunning view of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Grand Palais. The roof features a large metal pinnacle which offers a breathtakingly view of the center of Paris.

The arch is made up of two colonnades with Doric and Ionic columns, which are capped with a large inscription that reads “ARMEES FRANCAISES” (The Armies of France). Nearby one finds three bases supporting bronze statues of Liberty, Peace and Abundance.

The roof line is decorated with numerous bronze sculpture groups of female figures, representing Victory, and these figures are surmounted by six obelisks, which are in turn surmounted by gold-plated medallions, each depicting a symbol of an army regiment or battle.

The walls of the Arch are topped by a variety of figures, ranging from classical fasces to Roman eagles, and gilded sculptures represent the Victory of the Battles of Friedland and Montmirail.

The top of the arch is crowned with a golden flame, which is framed by a laurel wreath and surmounted by an eagle. This impressive structure has become a universally recognized symbol of France, and has been featured on countless coins, stamps and medals since 1837.

The Architecture and Decoration

The Arch is constructed from two large blocks of stone, and its decoration is completed by two levels of embellished entablatures with large ornamental masks and monumental sculptures. Bas-reliefs depict the victories of several Napoleonic wars, and two monumental grand entrances framed in bronze, marble, and stone provide access to the inner core of the arch.

The interior walls feature eight large paintings by some of the most renowned French artists of the period, including Gérard and Eugène-Louis-Pascal Berthon, supported by a huge dome structure and circular flooring, decorated with the star-shaped Ecu de France and the shield of the French Republic.

The exterior of the arch is decorated with a large laurel wreath, which was previously used as a symbol of victory. Its four large spandrels are decorated with rosette emblems, while its top is surmounted by a bronze eagle, which was also a common symbol of victory during Napoleon’s era. The Arc de Triomphe also has a large inscription in stone, which reads “ARMEES FRANCAISES” (The Armies of France).

The whole structure, from the figures of the two sentinels, to the large sculptures depicting victorious battles, to the massive sculptures and reliefs, is painted in vivid colors and gold. This grandiose display helps to make the Arc de Triomphe one of the most impressive and recognizable monuments in Paris.

The Impact of the Arc de Triomphe

In its time, the Arc de Triomphe was the largest and most expensive man-made structure the world had ever seen. Its sheer size and artistic beauty had a major impact on the people of France, who at the time were in the grips of a revolution and were in need of a morale boost.

The monument was designed to honor Napoleon’s victories, and to commemorate the bravery of the men and women of the French Army who had risked their lives in battle. The impact of the Arc can still be felt today, as it continues to stand as a symbol of the bravery and dedication of those who served France in times of war.

The Arc de Triomphe also serves as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors from all over the world make the journey to the landmark to admire its architectural beauty, and many visitors make use of the monument’s interior spiral staircase to access the roof and the spectacular views it provides.

The Arc de Triomphe is also a popular site for national celebrations. Every year, the President of France holds a wreath laying ceremony at the Arc to honor the veterans of past wars. The ceremony is carried out in front of a large crowd of spectators, and it serves to remind everyone of the importance of remembering the sacrifices of past soldiers.

The Presence in Pop Culture

The Arc de Triomphe has become an iconic symbol, due to its presence in pop culture for over two centuries. Notable appearances in the past include the prominent inclusion in both the 1932 and 1967 versions of The Grand Illusion, as well as the 1962 classic The Longest Day.

The Arc also make a brief appearance in the 2016 film Allied, set during World War II. In 2016, the landmark was also used as part of the French Grand Prix of Formula One Racing.

It is also a relatively frequent feature in literature. For instance, it was one of the primary settings in Victor Hugo’s classic Les Misérables, and appeared in Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, as well as Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days.

Today, the Arc de Triomphe is featured in many video games, television series, and films, and is featured on keyrings, stickers, postcards and countless other items.

The Significance of the Arc de Triomphe

With its monumental size, exquisite architecture and detailed sculptures, the Arc de Triomphe is certainly an impressive structure. Yet, its significance lies not only in its visual beauty.

The monument represents the bravery and loyalty of the soldiers who served the French state in times of war, and its presence has served as a powerful symbol that has come to embody the French identity.

For this reason, the Arc de Triomphe has come to be recognized and respected worldwide. It is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice of the men and women who gave their lives for the glory of France, and its legacy continues to live on.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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